UK leisure carrier Jet2 expects its winter seat capacity to be about half the levels of last year amid the continued impact of the pandemic, after today posting an operating loss of £111.2 million ($147 million) for the six months to September 2020.

The first-half loss compares to a profit of £361.5 million at the same stage last year. The latest result was based on revenues down 88% to just under £300 million, reflecting the sharp drop in operations as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Jet2 suspended flights in March as a result of the crisis and only resumed operations on 15 July.

”Our summer flying programme has since concentrated on those routes where we can achieve a positive financial contribution,” says Jet2 executive chairman Philip Meeson in the company’s half-year report.

”Following the re-imposition of quarantine restrictions for mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearics in late July, we successfully re-focused our programme to Eastern Mediterranean destinations, supported by our quick-to-market, flexible operating model.”

Jet2 flew just under 1 million passengers in the first half – compared with more than 10 million at the same stage last year. Average load factor slumped from 93% to 69%.

Average flight-only ticket yield per passenger sector was 10% higher at £97.58, primarily due to the stronger mix of Eastern Mediterranean destinations. Ancillary revenues rose almost a fifth on these services, again in part because of the longer flights.

But the average price of a Jet2holidays package holiday fell 3% to £681 during the period.

“At this stage, we anticipate winter 20/21 seat capacity will be approximately 50% less than winter 19/20,” Jet2 says in its outlook. ”And, with travel advice remaining uncertain, we expect forward bookings to continue to display a pronounced shorter lead time than in previous years.

”Whilst the recent positive news about a potential vaccine was welcome, we continue our cautious approach to summer 2021. Current seat capacity is close to summer 2019 levels.”

The group strengthened its ‘own cash’ position, excluding customer deposits, as of 30 September to £653 million – an increase of 25% since March. This balance includes gross proceeds raised from an equity placing plus the sale of its Fowler Welch distribution and logistics business.Total cash balances were £1.01 billion.

”Both our ‘own cash’ and total cash position as of September are better than the scenarios prepared at the time of the placing in May 2020,” it says.

Jet2 has also since completed the financing of six unencumbered mid-life aircraft, raising proceeds of $75 million. The company also secured access to £300 million of funding under the UK government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, which remains undrawn.